The Struggle With The Digital Tools

A new problem

Today the whole struggle with the digital tools is that people are talking more about themselves. Those who talk about their clients or others are highly successful automatically. This made me think. This talking all the time about themselves seems to be a problematic behaviour. Is this a new problem? Or an old problem with a new face? I think it is a new problem. Part of the problem is that, with digital tools, everyone thinks he or she can sell. It is never that way. You will understand this if you were a part of traditional rigour that we underwent in the world of traditional marketing. No such training is given today with respect to digital tools and selling and hence there is a misconception that everyone who has a presence will be able to sell. Its not about reaching people, but about engaging them in such a way that they buy. Go read this beautiful article from my favourite author Mr. Chris Brogan Are You Turning People Off?

How did we succeed in traditional world of marketing?

When I look back to my representative days two decades back, I remember, when we joined big pharma companies and underwent initial training, 70% of the training was about doctors as customers, relationships with them, their ecosystem of nurses and hospitals, patients as their clients and understanding our job in the midst of these. So when we went to do our job, we spoke to HCPs(health care practitioners) about “them” all the time. “Them” refers to our own doctor customers. We understood more, cared more and talked all the time about “them”. We infact learned much more from “them” than what companies can think of teaching. Thats how we became successful. That experience became the visa for everything that we dreamt in our career. We learnt to convert doctor’s invitation saying “I have no time” or “Two minutes I will give you” to have a chat with them for 15-45 minutes and took all their time and promoted all that we wanted.Throughout my career the companies that I worked with including FMCG bigwigs, had this practice of teaching how-to engage with the customers. They taught us how to be genuinely interested in the customer. They taught us how to make the customer’s buying experience as an incidental thing to the relationship that we built.

Only during the later annual-training-programmes and campaign-training-programmes we were more drilled about product-knowledge and were taught more about the company, products and associated details and all the while fine-tuning the already-mastered skills of relationship selling. Here too we learnt much more from the experience of the customers and companies used that as a feedback and disseminated it further.

The take-away

Now read Chris’s recipe in the above linked post and I quote him to sum up this post of mine:

You have a lot going on. People want to know about it. But it’s how you approach it that will make or break what you get from the effort.

Shed that “I know it all”. Dont jump to bombard the customers with your monologues. Thats sure recipe for a disaster. Rather learn it with patience. Practice inviting talks with customers. Do mock sessions, if needed, and see how it goes. You will understand it better.

Take help if needed. If you want to talk about it, I will be happy to talk to you.

Learning Social Tools via Email: A Demanding Kind Of Joy


You have a business. You have a brand. The brand could just be you. You have been hearing that social business brings in a lot of growth. Growth in every aspect and perspective, be it knowledge, sales, service, newer areas of growth. Betterment includes internal and external. You have listened to facts how online is growing and success stories all around. You have also seen some disasters. What’s in it for you?

People often ask me these questions. Where to start? What are the next steps? How do I go about? How can I be sure? How do I learn? How do I check? What are the best ways to learn? Sometimes I feel like answering a question of enormity like “How is Life?” It can mean so much.

On this subject, we have done elevator pitches, short presentations, longer ones, workshops, training programs, reviews and what not to business people.

One real objection that stood out: Time. Overall, it looks like, it will take hours and hours to master such things. When dealing with an overload already, it does not seem a good idea to undertake such exercises even if it is in the best interests of the business and growth. How do you overcome this?

I find that people are extremely good and settled with their emails as a tool for business. So why not learn through email? Inspired by some leaders who have implemented this successfully, we tried this last year. This post is to share that it works better than current methods of ours. So we are going to do more of that this year.

We are working with clients through email. They get daily or weekly emails. We explain one aspect of a goal or tool or feature at a time in every email. They just have to read, learn and spend time only with that one aspect of a tool or feature at a time. Many prefer “weekly” so that they can practice, share and learn about that one aspect well within that week. In practice they generally become master of it. We have seen that people not only master the tools but expand their thoughts.

Such learning and sharing becomes a new culture.It becomes a everyday habit. Transition becomes easy. In due course, you shift to using social tools in the best manner that suits your business. Since it is one at a time via email, the mistakes are greatly reduced or manageable. It does not feel like you are wasting your precious work time and learning something, which you are unsure. It also gives you a break and learning re-energizes you.

Once-in-a-frequency when we meet our email clients, the happiness of learning and that standing in good stead is visible all over. It has been a demanding kind of joy that we are experiencing and sharing.

What do you think? How have you been learning?

Want to try this? Feel free to comment or buzz me. I will be happy to talk to you.

Start With Your Objectives To Achieve Them

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Customer Scenario #1:

One of my customers(SBU) is doing a turnover of X in their business. They want to achieve a growth of y%, add new customers, serve existing customers better and know more trends for growth in their line of business. They have listed out their resources and also ways to achieve them traditionally. Part of the resources they are ready to deploy towards newer strategies. Now the customer wants to evaluate what-social-tools are all about, what are the tools they should concentrate on and how these chosen tools can help them achieve those results and move forward being a better company.

We are discussing what it takes to implement the strategy, resources, controls, work flow integration or disruption that it might bring about, metrics, measurement, risks and results including RoI. We are on our way to make a check-list with timeline, milestones, reviews etc…

I am pretty confident that this customer will soon be on top of his new strategy and transform his business using social tools.

Customer Scenario #2:

One of my customers want to know what-social-tools are all about, want to learn all about them, want to be proved how that might fit their businesses, want to be assured about the results that it can bring, the problems it can solve etc etc. They are very enthusiastic about new tools and strategies and the company is looking forward to use Social tools and transform their company to a modern one for growth.

We are discussing what-social-tools are all about, examples of companies who have initiated usage of social tools and have seen traction and results, opinions of experts and trying to understand what more needs to be done. Several rounds of presentations are being asked and served.

I think that they might gain traction in understanding or might think social tools are not for them or might think it is a hype and waste of time or might think I am trying to sell them my knowledge or might come up saying that they are not sure or are not comfortable since there is no assurance. They might take a long time to achieve real business results. I am not sure which way the customer would go.

What do you think is a better way to go about? See the video where I give another metaphor. (note: The volume of the video is low unless heard with earphones. I am still learning my tools of video making. Promise better ones in the future).

Feel free to share. Feel free to comment. Feel free to buzz me for a discussion. I will be happy to discuss with you.

 

 

Social Protocol Remains The Same

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Connecting The Social Dots

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Its time to think BIG. Its time to connect the social dots for your business. Go Social, Go Mobile, Go Cloud and learn to use Big Data to your advantage. Connect these social dots for your business growth. These are the future dots of businesses. The best possible future for your business comes from connecting these dots.

Apart from all the social media that we know that we put to work for our business, my friend Krish gave a wonderful view on Social as a source of data and Social as data, in the recent Imagine2020 talk of his at Chennai.

You know how you do business. Check how business gets done or what are the underlying changes that has happened recently. That will give you an idea of how your organization should change for the future.

To compete in the marketplace with better sales, customer service, worker productivity and to grasp with trends of products of the future that your customers look forward to Social is becoming a must. Social will make you highly competitive. Social will help you survive, thrive and grow better.

Organizational, structural, cultural, regulatory and legal barriers might exist. But these can be overcome with a proper understanding and transition done to move towards being a Social Business.

Happy New Year 2013 and here is Wishing you and your business lots of growth with Social tools in the coming years.

Social Business Company

I had worked with good companies that had great culture and encouraged networking as a way of work. To give you a context, this was much before email was used for business.

The companies encouraged as many “meets” as possible (read the term “meets” in the sense of “assemble” or “convene”). Team meets, Brand meets, Company meets, Distributor meets and Customer meets. It would look like the companies were inventing a reason to make everyone meet. While some companies considered these meetings a waste of time and money, the companies which got sold on this way of work encouraged these meetings by all means and spent quite a budget to make it happen.

The beauty of such meetings is people who are participants of these meets made the meetings happen and shared a lot of work and strived to create more value from their side. Everyone tried to excel with their contribution and tried to show-off by adding value.

Let me tell you a simple example of a team meeting. It involved a hotel conference room, good food, timely snacks and coffee during intervals, drinking water during the meeting, projectors and mikes, stationery, paper work, logistics of personnel and a great deal of communication.  Each activity was done by a participant by volunteering or by assignment.  Since if something went wrong it would be seen as inefficiency of that person for the assigned(mostly volunteered) task, everybody did it well to prove and also get praised. Each individual contributions used to look manageable and small but viewed in the context of the meeting, it would have simply made the meeting wonderful. The meetings involved each individual presenting on his markets and the rest of team questioning/commenting on it to exchange ideas and adding value.

Take another example of customer meets. Company will sketch out the objectives and framework to operate. Employees will add the variations for the meets depending on the area. The distributors will localize it and also involve top customers. The whole team of company executives, employees, distributors and customers will make the meet a grand success and look like a festival for the brand. Visibility, more customers and growth are the results achieved.

When people got transferred from one team to another, they carried those practices and learnt new ones and over time, people followed the best practices everywhere in the organization. We had many instances of small teams bringing in major changes within the company.

Not only team meetings with company employees, all above said “meets” happened the same way including business partners(distributors) and even customers. We had witnessed many occasions where customers used to participate as if they owned the brand and were involved as if its their own function at home. As a result, both their value and the value of the company they represented grew.

Such a way of work was possible because the company believed everyone could contribute. Such a open networking way of work taught people good lessons and improved average productivity, efficiency and learning. It also promoted competitiveness and leaders emerged from such situations. These companies were market leaders and had strong brands, ever increasing market shares, low attrition rates, ever expanding markets and never had to look out for leaders of future outside of their companies. They promoted from within.

While some companies were struggling to understand such ways of work and had highly restrictive practices, practising companies used to wonder “how-else can you function?”. This looks amazingly easy or extremely tough. It depends on the understanding and practicing of the basic fundamentals of how business happens and creating a culture to nurture the same. The companies I worked did everything to nurture such a healthy system.

The beauty of this is the fact it works amazingly and produces the best results possible from employees, partners and customers. These companies made Business a way of life for everyone involved.

Cut to Present….

Today the available tools and technologies can make such an ecosystem not only work better but also the scale at which this can be done are enormous.

If you are open, encourage participation for value creation with employees, business partners and customers to achieve your business objectives with today’s tools and technologies in a massive scale, you have a new name: Social Business Company.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

The Business Impact Series: Information

Information
Information (Photo credit: heathbrandon)

I got a surprise call the other day from a company wanting to discuss my post Extracting The Business Impact From Technologies.

Almost all organisations, without fail, collect a lot of information at various levels. Though collected, in a systematic manner, it is almost never available. Surprised? 
Think of the information your organisation has collected over the years.
Think of the systems you have created to collect information.
Take a look at the tools you have in place to collect information.
How many hours(time) and how much money(spent and being spent) to collect this information?
Now ask yourself if the collected information is available to be accessed by the people within your company who needs them or can use them. 
If not, revisit all the above and see if you can do something about it.

If you want to talk to me on this, I shall be happy to talk to you. 
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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Extracting The Business Impact From Technologies

a simplified example of integration
Image via Wikipedia

I quoted a case-study here of how a company achieved their objectives and goals with the data that they could access,collect, analyze and strategize with it.

Let use see another example of a company who did not have the same kind of competencies.

Case-Study


A company wanted to know what are the future products that they should concentrate on. They wanted to come up with a list of pipeline products. They wanted to validate the list and confirm it as part of their future strategy. They thought that they did not have the capabilities in terms of access to data, capability of personnel to collect such data and the tools/ processes to achieve this. So they hired a consulting firm which charged a hefty fee. The consulting firm did an independent research and involved only the senior management for interactions to come up with their report. Hence only people involved in strategy-making were aware of this exercise within the company.

At the same time, the company wanted to take this as an opportunity to test the capabilities of their team within and hence undertook a parallel exercise of asking their marketing people to come up with a list of products that the company should concentrate on for the future from their respective markets. Each of the company managers came up with a list pertaining to his territorial area and the list was consolidated and ranked with a few parameters. Though the internal list did not have the depth of the consulting firm’s research report, the company was surprised that 60-70% of the products matched. This helped the company hugely. This gave them the necessary confidence.

If what a research report says is news to your marketing team or what your marketing guy says is not in the report, one of them is terribly wrong. Not the depth, but at least the whiff of the matter should match.

The company learned a few lessons on the process of integrating the data that is already available to them and putting it to use for decision-making.

Available but not used

Not all companies can hire consulting firms to do the research. Also, hiring consulting firms for everything is not feasible. But what you can learn to do is to capture and use your own data.

For most companies today data are abundant and readily available, but not well used. Survey results confirm this.

In this digital era, the tools are available for creating mountains of information from across the world.

What needs to be done is integration. Integration will help you get the best out of your touch and feel of the business and big data will validate it to make informed decisions. That is what I am talking about in My Next Level. The big picture will help you spot new opportunities, increase the lead from your competitors and more productivity with what you do already.

The race to the top or better market share or being a better organization involves knowing the future or predicting it. Its a race well-fought with big data and integrating it within your organization.



Feel free to buzz me for further discussions on the same.
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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

My Next Level

Designing a Social Business
Image by ByronNewMedia via Flickr
Last Few Years
I have been on a learning curve. Learning two futuristic things: Cloud Computing and Social Media. In the last few years, I have met many business owners and have discussed these two topics. I have learnt how this impacts a business in all its entirety. These two are increasingly becoming significant to business owners. I have understood Cloud Computing better from a user/business point of view. I have developed a good network of specialists of Cloud Computing to supplement. I have focused my learning on Social Media integration with business objectives. My consulting assignments have been on Building Trust on your Brands using the tools of Social Media and on Productivity of Cloud Computing(APPU). I am taking a closer look on Big Data and What They Can Do.
My Next Level
My next level is talking about the Big Picture: How to grow your business using the Social and Collaboration technologies coming into your organization. My next big task would be to map newer models which capture this big picture to propel growth. I would like that this new integration models of mine convinces and gets all the 3 votes needed within an organisation viz., the CEO(operations), the CFO(finance) and the CTO/CIO(technologist). Business that is connected and involves all stakeholders and the models that cater to such integration is the key to the future. More importantly to make an organization see the opportunities of business that this integration brings.
The single theme, canvas or purpose for all technologies/models is being connected for business growth. This will be my next level.
If you have questions on this big picture for your organization, feel free to buzz me. I will be happy to discuss.

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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Big Data And What They Can Do

strategy
Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr
Big Data


There is so much talk about Big Data. The procedures, processes and tools that are used for making sense of large sets of data an organization piles up is called Big Data. There is so much of talk about it. Understandably so.


Case-Study


Consider this situation of a case-study in early 90s to which I was a part of.

A company whose 80% revenues and also huge share of profits depended on a single product of theirs. There came a situation which was forcing the price of this product to be cut to 50%. This was going to impact their revenues and profits hugely. The company had to react fast and double or triple their sales to maintain revenues and profits. The company thought there may be scope and set out to find all the ways to do this.

The company chalked out a plan. Sent out the whole field-force with questionnaires and sought answers from customers to map the product usage, positioning, perception, results etc… It took the company a lot of spending to touch base with all involved and got a lot of feedback. The logistics involved in getting the feedback, sorting them out, consolidating, analyzing  and chalking out a strategy based on the feedback took 6-8 months. Based on the feedback, they chalked out the strategy and ran 3-4 campaign cycles for a year. The result was there for everyone to see: The company did not double its sale but increased it by 6-8 times the original revenues on that product. The company survived and moved forward in leaps and bounds.

Where do you think the answer was? Obviously all the answers came from their customers, distributors, retailers and employees. How did the company win? The strength of the company was in the fact that they could reach all stake-holders, collect feedback (data), sort out the feedback data, analyze it and chalk out a strategy. The key to their future was in their ability to collect, analyze and make sense of the critical data. Not all organizations could have done such a tremendous job.

What Big Data Can Do

Imagine the same situation today with all the digital revolution.

Today it is called Big Data. The ability to handle and analyze huge data sets. Everything from winning competition to innovation happens because of this ability of analyzing relevant facts and chalking out future strategy. It looks like almost every problem that haunts a business can be solved by this ability to handle data and put it to productive use. Managements world over are trying their best to capture this data and help them to make informed decisions.
Organizations need integrated systems to optimize the big-data capture and usage. Real-time information along with institutional memories of employees can go a long way in making decisions about strategies for the future.

While Big Data has become a big catch phrase and everyone is rushing with business models around it, I will be more interested in talking about how Businesses can integrate their Social Media Information into this and ways to capture them and use big data to achieve business goals and bottom-line.


What do you think? Feel free to share your views.

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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com